Hutton's early witnesses likely to embarrass No 10

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The deputy director of defence intelligence, and a former army officer whose evidence is likely to be highly embarrassing for Downing Street, will be among the early witnesses at Lord Hutton's inquiry into the death of David Kelly.

The list of those giving evidence next week was made public by the Department of Constitutional Affairs yesterday. Martin Howard, described simply as a Ministry of Defence official, had access to key secret information on Iraq in his highly senior post at defence intelligence. Mr Howard is expected to be asked what links Dr Kelly had with the intelligence world and his part in the compilation of the September Iraq weapons dossier.

The first witness before Lord Hutton, the ex-British Army colonel Terry Taylor, will contradict Downing Street's claims that Dr Kelly was a "Walter Mitty" who was just a middle-ranking technician.

Mr Taylor, the director of the International Institute of Strategic Studies in Washington, has already written in The Independent that Dr Kelly "was a scientific civil servant of the highest calibre who became the UK's leading authority in the effort to prevent the development and proliferation of biological weapons around the world".

Mr Taylor was chief inspector of the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq after the 1991 Gulf War when Dr Kelly was a fellow chief inspector searching for weapons of mass destruction.

Dr Kelly, said Mr Taylor, was his "mentor". He continued: "As a fellow chief inspector with David Kelly I, like others, benefited enormously from his scientific and technical skills he willingly shared."

Mr Taylor detailed how, as well as highly valuable work in Iraq, the late scientist had played a major role uncovering WMD programmes in the former Soviet Union. "[Dr Kelly] made an immense contribution in the scientific understanding of information passed to the UK and US governments by defectors," he said. "This required a great deal of UK and US co-operation and delicate negotiations on very sensitive matters between senior officials from the policy and intelligence worlds."

Andrew Gilligan, the defence and diplomatic correspondent of Radio 4's Today programme, who said Downing Street had interfered in the September dossier, will also give evidence next week. He will be followed by fellow BBC journalists Susan Watts, Gavin Hewitt and Richard Sambrook, the corporation's head of news.

Mr Gilligan says he based his report on information supplied by Dr Kelly. Ms Watts and Mr Hewitt had also spoken to the scientist about the Iraq dossier. Ms Watts is said to have a tape recording in which Dr Kelly mentions the involvement of Alastair Campbell, the Prime Minister's director of communications.

Also appearing on the first week will be Julian Miller, from the Cabinet Office; Richard Hatfield, the MoD's personnel director; Brian Wells, another MoD official; Patrick Lamb, a WMD expert employed by the Foreign Office, and John Williams from the Foreign Office news department.

PRIME WITNESS

Terence Taylor was one of David Kelly's closest friends and spoke to him four days before his apparent suicide. Police investigating the death have interviewed Mr Taylor twice to gather background information.

The Hutton inquiry will question him as it attempts to establish if Dr Kelly was a "Walter Mitty" character, as No 10 has claimed, or an authority on biological warfare, which is what many in the scientific community maintain.

Mr Taylor was the chief inspector for the United Nations Special Commission on Iraq.

He is assistant director of the International Institute for Strategic Studies in Washington.

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